There’s nothing like the feeling of starting something new.. Turning toward an exciting unknown, eyes brimming with optimism. But make no mistake, this embrace of opportunity takes courage. Such is the case when purchasing a clean, brand new pair of white sneakers.
Like any new beginning, a glowing and undamaged pair of white sneakers evokes a sense of unbridled optimism. That pair of sneakers both literally and figuratively represents a fresh start. Something bright and shiny, a clean break, something people are going to see.
Like your sneakers, every new start begins on a high note, but as with all honeymoon periods, the novelty begins to fade. This is not entirely different from real life, where things get dirty and damaged and the glow we began with comes to fade. Anybody who’s owned even just one pair of white shoes learns this all very quickly. If we’re being honest, your shiny new sneakers get only a short window, (maybe a few weeks if you’re lucky) before dirt, damage, and creases begin to color them a worn-in and distressed shade of dirty white.
This is not to say that the inevitable damage and dirt makes getting a pair of white sneakers a mistake. To imply that would suggest we shouldn’t ever start this journey at all. Instead, every pair of white sneakers is purchased with at least some knowledge that they will only remain white for a short while. To some, this is enough to keep them from getting a pair, but to others, this is the exact reasoning for purchase.
A patina is “an appearance or aura that is derived from association, habit, or established character”. Those who have owned a lot of white sneakers know the meaning of that word well. For some, the patina associated with a well worn pair of white sneakers is something that must be earned. It’s a commitment to a vulnerable object that will unquestionably pick up the dings, scuffs, and dirt that come with any aged thing. To those who feel strongly about wearing in their shoes, the worn in, well-patinated white sneaker is even more beautiful than the brand new, exceptionally clean one.
This is because the worn in sneaker, with its fraying laces and scuffed up outsoles is unquestionably ours. Each and every ding and dent happens because those sneakers have been through something, and if you pay attention, each and every one of those earned imperfections can mark a memory. We all remember the feeling of frustration that occurs when someone steps on our new white sneakers at a party, or when you didn’t check the weather and you know that you’ll be trying to dodge puddles all day. And if you have been paying attention, one day you can look at those sneakers and see all of those associated experiences reflected back at you like a mirror, reminding you of the year you decided to buy a pair of white tumbled leather Vans Old Skools or Grace Wales Bonner adidas Sambas.
Something special happens to our sneakers when we let them become little time capsules of our lives. They become more than just a pair of shoes. They become an artifact of a moment in time, specific to our lives. They store the memories of the parties we went to or the roads we walked. One might say that they become more beautiful as they age — just as we do — just as the world around us does. They’re better because they’re ours, and we have the patina to show for it.
So this year, as you begin to look at upcoming horizons, whether they be a recently started school year or a potential new job, consider bringing along a new pair of white sneakers. Wear them in, wear them whenever you can. Wear them to parties and in the snow and while you skateboard or walk around your neighborhood. Wear them well, and wear them to death. When next year approaches and you’re looking for a new pair of white sneakers, you’ll be ready to embark on the journey all over again.